Infectious diseases had been a big part of my training in medical school in India, where I cared for and learned from patients with a wide variety of infections from extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis to cerebral malaria to Japanese encephalitis to all types of vaccine-preventable diseases because of lack of health care access. I became fascinated by the specialty, and my interest was further bolstered by role models in residency. A fellowship in a strong inner-city clinical program under awesome mentors with a plethora of pathology was invaluable for the years to come. My first job out of training was in a rural community hospital and Federally Qualified Health Center as the first ID physician in the center. It’s been a rewarding experience to start and run a very busy rural ID practice, taking care of uninsured and underinsured patients in an area with a shortage of health professionals. Sharing strong bonds with patients living with HIV over the last 7 years in a small rural community has been a learning experience about their challenges and successes. Absorbing the business side of medicine as a medical director has been equally eye opening. My role as a hospital epidemiologist and stewardship lead has allowed me to build cherished relationships with several medical specialties and hospital staff. I have to admit that I have also learned from patients and communities who may not always agree with me (with respect to management of Lyme disease and vaccine refusal). Keeping the dialogue open is the key.
The best part of working in ID is that there is not 1 day that passes without some exciting pathology coming your way. ID is the specialty of the future. It’s the road to a very satisfying career with a good balance of work and family life. We definitely need more ID physicians working in the rural underserved communities of United States.
– Raghavendra Tirupathi, MD, FACP
Infectious Disease News Editorial Board member
Medical director, Keystone Infectious Diseases/HIV Chair, infection prevention,